When Paul and I left CA earlier this week a small part of me was sad. The rest of my family would be together for Christmas (minus T&J, still honeymooning).
But after another year, our third actually, of Christmas at home in MN...I gotta say, I love it.
Paul was off Christmas Eve. It snowed (even more). We spent the day delivering goodies to friends, sledding, shoveling, watching a movie and baking world peace (cookies, that is).
And in an attempt to find a meal that the kids would be happy about we ordered pizza (per Noah's request) and drank Martinelli's. Pretty sure it's a new tradition.
Before bed, also per tradition we sang Christmas carols and talked about the real story of Christmas.
And although Noah insisted he couldn't possibly sleep, the kids were asleep by 9. I set a new record by getting us to bed by 11pm on Christmas Eve. That would be because I'd stayed up till 1:30 am wrapping 2 nights earlier. It also helped to have Paul around - oh wait, no it didn't but it was fun anyways : )
This morning, Christmas morning, we were all up at 7am (after sending Noah back to his room to read books at 6:30am).
Our morning in pictures:
Noah was happy and excited and played a great Santa. He spent much of the day mastering the levels of Super Mario Bros. on the Wii.
Alex, never one to hold back, gives the best reaction you've ever seen to anything and everything. She has been in Disney Princess heaven ever since.
Avery had no idea what was going on but loved wrapping paper, her little baby which she carried around on her shoulder (patting it's bum), her many musical toys which she danced to all morning and just being in the middle of everything. She's never played on her own for so long in her entire 14 months of life.
Paul and I loved watching it all unfold : ) And of course all the hugs and kisses.
We also had friends over for Christmas "lunch" since Paul had to head in to work tonight at 5pm.
Good food, good friends.
Minus 5pm, at which point Paul and I were both exhausted but he had to leave for an all-night shift and I got to stay home alone with 3 kids on the brink of meltdowns and a house that looked like a Christmas bomb went off.
But that was ok too. We managed to have a good night.
As I was getting the kids ready for bed tonight they insisted on tattoos (from their stockings). Which led to a an intersting conversation about Mom's tattoo. Which I of course turned into a teaching moment. (I had to when Noah asked me if he looked like, "one of those guys with tattoos all over who rides a motorcycle with no helmet?")
Something along the lines of following the prophet and me getting my tattoo laser burned off...
I knew I'd got the lesson across when Alex looked at me with big eyes and said, "I think I just like fake tattoos mom."
Or maybe I hit it a little too hard, because a few minutes later Alex nervously asked, "Mom, do Dr.'s still have laser guns?"
I explained they only use them when people want them too. She said, "Yeah, like when you have a real tattoo."
Not really wanting to end the night on that note we read a bunch of the kids new books. One of the stories mentioned the "olden days."
At which point Noah interrupted and said, "olden days? they mean the 1980's."
Actually, the night ended with the kids, once again, fighting sleep.
My brother was...himself. (Which means there are funny stories)
Josie was beautiful.
It was rainy.
It was perfect.
And now I have a new sister!
Tanner and Josie, love you both.
Enough to stand on and almost slide down a muddy hill in high heels and wedding clothes in the drizzle to pose for your pictures - sisters squealing, husbands cracking jokes, and dad wondering aloud about why we have to have so much #*&@ drama in this family.
Ah, great memories.
Did I mention how great it was to be together with all of my siblings and their spouses?
Wind, ice, and I don't even know how many inches (which turned into feet) of snow.
Our day went something like this:
Paul shoveled the driveway in the morning while the kids played in the snow.
Then decided to brave the streets and weather and take the kids sledding, since they were already bundled up and it was only going to get worse.
You see, Paul has the entire weekend off (unheard of!) and Noah has been dying to head over to the big sled hill in town
Noah loved it, Alex made a few runs too, but didn't love the spraying snow.
So they made a little shelter for her underneath a pine tree, where the branches protected her from the cold and wind and she was happy as could be.
On the way home the roads were worse, but still do-able.
That afternoon Noah and Alex were invited to play at a friends house - on the other side and very edge of town. We had to wait for the call that the snowplows had cleared their streets before Paul could take them over.
So he shoveled the driveway again.
And on the way home...he almost didn't make it.
I was stressed out that our kids were going to be stuck at our friends house until the next day.
But a few hours later Paul made the trek again (which required more shoveling) and they all made it home in one piece.
Barely! Paul said it was treacherous. He had blankets and everyone's snow gear in the car in case they got stuck.
(Noah probably could have handled it, but Alex?? Paul was praying he would not get stuck with Alex.)
They eventually pulled the snowplows off the roads yesterday - they couldn't keep up.
Our ward Christmas Party was canceled.
Church was canceled.
We stayed in, stayed warm, made cookies, and ate grilled cheese and homemade chicken noodle soup.
This morning the sky is clear, the roads are plowed, and we have "arctic temperatures" for the next few days.
Right now it's 0 degrees, -25 with wind chill.
And Paul is out doing this:
Shoveling the driveway yet again, and trying to clear away the wall of snow taller than my kids that the snowplows left at the bottom.
The kids didn't last very long out there, even Noah who loves the cold.
Paul? At this point I've lost track of how long he's been out there.
Which was great on the day of his birth because all of my family was in town for Thanksgiving. Paul's family was already there of course, which meant that everyone got to be there to meet him and hold him the night he was born.
The first grandkid on both sides.
I love remembering that day, when our first child was born : )
Of course, since then, having a Thanksgiving birthday isn't necessarily ideal, but we make it work.
This year, instead of a birthday party Noah took his family and a friend to The Mall of America to ride the rides all day. He's tall enough to do every single one, and he does'em all. The scream-your-guts-out-think-you're-going-to-die ones and the ones Paul and I can't handle anymore because we are old and they make us sick. He loves it.
And he had a blast, we all did, on black friday at Mall of America.
His actual birthday fell on Sunday this year.
We celebrated with presents, the Happy Birthday song, candles and cake and ice cream, phone calls from the grandparents, and watching the movie we made of the day of his birth
(which, fyi, does NOT include the actual birth).
Noah looooooved it all.
Honestly he was so super sweet and happy all day.
Like when I got out the camera and started snapping he looked up and smiled happily at me??!!
Me: Why are we always buying our tree in the middle of a snowstorm?
Paul: Because we live in Minnesota.
Alex: (screaming and crying) It's too fat!!!
Alex: (screaming and crying) It's too skinny!!!
Home Depot Employee: Do you have any questions?
Paul: Do you know how to handle a 5-year old girl?
Avery: (not loving her puffy coat, trying to squirm out of my arms and run around in the snow, oblivious to the decorating of the tree [hallelujah], but cheering smiling and clapping along with the rest of us when we lit it up!)
Me: (not taking any chances) Higher! Put the ornaments up higher!
Noah: This is the best part of Christmas!
It smells like Christmas too : )
Now if I could just remember to water it this year...
a really good book...my sisters...making/eating dessert (preferably chocolate)...my girlfriends...eating out...making Paul laugh...snuggling my kiddos...date nights...reading with my kids...family outings...diet coke